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Ketosis &
Pregnancy Toxemia

Before kidding it is called Pregnancy Toxemia.
After kidding it is called Ketosis.

Pregnancy Toxemia/Ketosis is caused by a build up of excess ketones in the blood (urine & milk), due to the incomplete metabolic breakdown of body fat. It occurs in a doe (before or after kidding) because of an inability to consume enough feed to meet her needs. Ketosis can be caused by either too much, or too little grain, or the wrong type of grain and also poor quality hay/forage.

Before kidding, internal body fat plus large fetuses prevent the goat from taking in enough calories to support both the doe and fetuses. Because there is an urgent need for calories, the doe's body starts breaking down her body's fat reserves. But this method of metabolism is incomplete, and thus leaves ketones behind. Pregnancy Toxemia usually occurs within the last six weeks of the doe's pregnancy and is usually attributable either to underfeeding (starvation toxemia) or overfeeding grain. We also believe that increased outside stress during the final weeks of pregnancy, in conjunction with large, multiple kids can contribute to the occurrence of Pregnancy Toxemia.

After kidding Ketosis results from the doe producing higher milk yields than her body can keep up with. Usually she is not being fed enough to keep up with her milk production.


The doe eats less or stops eating completely.
Seperation from the herd
The doe may be slow to get up or may lie off in a corner.
Her eyes are dull.
Somestimes blindness
Muscle tremors & seizures
Head pressing
She may have swollen ankles
She may grind her teeth.
The doe may breathe more rapidly.
The doe's breath and urine may have a fruity sweet odor. This is due to the excess ketones, which have a sweet smell.


Prevent excess body fat during early pregnancy and increase the caloric intake in late pregnancy with a little more high energy feed (in moderation). Try to eliminate stress on the doe if at all possible.

After kidding increase grain as the doe's milk production increases.



Oral glucose/sugar:

  • Molasses & Karo syrup (corn syrup). Mix 2 parts corn syrup to 1 part molasses.  20 - 30ml every 2 hours. This tastes much better than PG and thus is less stressful to administer.
  • Propylene Glycol: Propylene Glycol is an appetite suppressant and it inhibits rumen bacteria, so do not use unless the doe is off her feed.
    • 3-4 oz (90-120ml) 2 times a day, for 2 days, and then 1-2 oz (30ml-60ml) 2 times daily until the doe is eating normally.
    • 10 - 20ml every 2 hours
    • Personal Note: Ever since my scientist father pointed out that Propylene Glycol is extremely similar in composition to Anti-Freeze, I tend to avoid it if at all possible.  I still with other, less harmful sugars.
  • Nutridrench, Goatdrench: 2 oz. 2 times a day


B-Complex: injections to stimulate the appetite.

Probios: to stimulate the appetite and keep the rumen functioning.

Children's Chewable Vitamins w/ extra Calcium: If the doe will eat them, feed her 2-4 a day.

Rescue Remedy: Helps to reduce stress levels.

Lavender Essential Oil: This is an aromatherapy treatment for stress and depression. The doe may get depressed if she is not feeling well. Also, the drenching of Propylene Glycol (which doesn't taste very good) can be stressful on the doe. Lavender has a calming and mood lifting effect. Place 4 drops of oil in three different places in the doe's stall twice a day.

Even through it is the treatment for Milk Fever, I have found that it is also helpful to give:

Calcium Gluconate:

  • 8 oz. given orally. Repeat 5-8 oz, three times a day until the doe is eating and symptoms are subsiding.
  • SQ Injections of 40-60 cc of Calcium Gluconate. The injections should be broken down into at least 4 injections in different sites. Do not give more than 10 cc per injection site. The injections should be given slowly.

Once the doe has regained her appetite, increase her grain ration so that a relapse does not occur.


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